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Apologies for the weeds growing around this blog for a while.

Every now and again real life intrudes, quite rudely, into my reading, and I drop the ball for a bit.

I thought I’d start with a small hymn of praise, both to my son, who is going from strength to strength with his reading, and to Andy Stanton, author of the Mr Gum novels, for helping him along his way.

Oscar takes books to bed every night, sometimes he sleeps on them. He also listens to audio books, sometimes at one and the same time.

Because he reads to me every day for school, I do not insist he finishes books he takes to bed with him, or quiz him on what he takes. I just let him amble around, picking and choosing, starting some things, never finishing some things. I know that the structure is there that will mean that when he does find something that grabs his interest he will need no prompting to finish it.

This has been the case with Andy Stanton’s Mr. Gum books.


Oscar is not unfamiliar with them. I read them all to him and his sisters a few summers ago, and we have all the audio books, which he listens to on a regular basis. He has, up to now, never wanted to read the books for himself.

Over the last few days however he has read: ‘The Hound of Lamonic Bibber’, ‘You’re A Bad Man Mr Gum’ and ‘Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire.’

We went on a bit of a road trip on Saturday, and he took his book and his iPad. Usually he plugs himself into his technology straight the way, and will not pick up a book unless prodded. This time however, it was different, and he read the entire of ‘You’re A Bad Man Mr Gum’ and then told us in no uncertain terms that he was sad he had finished it before we got home and how he wished he had bought another one with him, and how he supposed he would be forced to go on his iPad now instead.

Which was delightful to hear, despite the slightly whinging tone it was delivered in.

I am thrilled he is reading them. They are not an easy read. Stanton makes up words, uses different fonts, and is very creative with the language, which means that although the books are very popular, you have to be fairly confident as a reader to read them to yourself rather than with the help of an adult.

I know Oscar was doing it right because he kept interrupting our conversation in the car to read out bits of the book which particularly tickled him.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Mr. Gum books, they are perfect to read to children aged five and upwards. They are great for confident readers aged six or seven and upwards and make great transitional books from reading scheme to full novels, because they are short without seeming to be, as there are few words to a page and the books are thick, and they have lots of fantastic illustrations by Dave Tazzyman which means there is added humour and interest on every page. The books are suitable for both boys and girls, and are very, very silly indeed.

They tell of a strange town called Lamonic Bibber in which the evil Mr. Gum tries to destroy the happiness of the towns folk with the friend of his friend the terrible butcher Billy William the Third. They are thwarted in their plans by a young girl called Polly and a man called Friday who has a habit of shouting; ‘The truth is a lemon meringue!’

Surreal, bonkers, violent and silly in the best ways these are excellent and very, very fun if you are an adult and want something different and entertaining to read to your children.